Mitochondria and neuroplasticity

Aiwu Cheng, Yan Hou, Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The production of neurons from neural progenitor cells, the growth of axons and dendrites and the formation and reorganization of synapses are examples of neuroplasticity. These processes are regulated by cell-autonomous and intercellular (paracrine and endocrine) programs that mediate responses of neural cells to environmental input. Mitochondria are highly mobile and move within and between subcellular compartments involved in neuroplasticity (synaptic terminals, dendrites, cell body and the axon). By generating energy (ATP and NAD+), and regulating subcellular Ca2+ and redox homoeostasis, mitochondria may play important roles in controlling fundamental processes in neuroplasticity, including neural differentiation, neurite outgrowth, neurotransmitter release and dendritic remodelling. Particularly intriguing is emerging data suggesting that mitochondria emit molecular signals (e.g. reactive oxygen species, proteins and lipid mediators) that can act locally or travel to distant targets including the nucleus. Disturbances in mitochondrial functions and signalling may play roles in impaired neuroplasticity and neuronal degeneration in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, psychiatric disorders and stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00045
Pages (from-to)243-256
Number of pages14
JournalASN Neuro
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2010


  • Mitochondria biogenesis
  • Mitochondria fission and fusion
  • Neural progenitor cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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